A global shortage of Covid19 vaccine supplies is pushing the already adjusted target period of the Philippines for herd immunity to the first quarter of next year, according to finance secretary Carlos Dominguez III.
Socioeconomic planning secretary Karl Kendrick Chua noted that more than 70% of the population would need to get dosed, owing to the more infectious Delta variant.
At the Senate deliberations for next year’s proposed P5.02-trillion national budget, Dominguez reported that some 36.2 million doses of vaccines were already dispensed as of Sept. 6, 20.9 million of which were first doses and 15.3 million were second doses. Close to 53 million more doses were delivered to the country as of Sept. 3, while 142 million more are expected to arrive before the year is out.
Although the government had cemented deals for the delivery of 9 million vaccine doses each week, the supply problem threatens to delay the goal of herd immunity even more, said Dominguez.
“We have already ordered it,” he said. “We have set aside the money for it. Now it is up to the pharmas [pharmaceutical firms] to deliver. And so far, this first week of September, we are already short.” He reported that only 3.5 million doses were delivered last week.
“So it is a matter of supply,” he said. “Everything is already there–the order is there, the negotiations have been completed, the money is ready. Now we are waiting for the pharmas to step up to the plate.”
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. had little in the way of good news on this front. He said that the delivery of Moderna (1.8 million doses), Pfizer (4 million doses) and COVAX Facility (6 million doses) vaccines were also delayed. Among the reasons for this was the vaccine export ban in India.
Three million more Moderna doses are hoped to be among the vaccine supply the country will receive this month, with another 15 million doses in the next three months.
Galvez also announced that multiparty agreements with local government units have been paused because “there is really no supply.” According to the official, manufacturers of AstraZeneca, Sinovac and Moderna agreed to supply vaccines to the national government at present. Meanwhile, Pfizer, Janssen and Sputnik V manufacturers were not open to entering agreements with local governments.